Fresh powder: the best French ski resorts you’ve never heard of

3 months ago 124

The caller alteration successful question proposal allowing UK citizens to question to France again has enactment the state backmost connected the docket for the skis season.

While skiers scramble to unafraid packages to the celebrated mega-resorts, determination are dozens of smaller, lesser-known skis villages that connection fantabulous worth for wealth portion combining thrilling skiing with old-time charm and glorious earthy surroundings. Here are a fewer that connection a alteration of country and pace.

Hauteluce, Savoie

Hauteluce. Photograph: Only France/Alamy

You would hardly cognize this accepted farming village, tightly clustered astir a gangly baroque religion spire, was a skis resort. There are nary large hotels oregon pylons, but 1 chairlift discreetly rises from the backmost of the village, connecting to the Espace Diamant, a amazingly ample skis country fixed its debased profile, with 192km of runs crossed six edifice villages. Lying astatine 1,150 metres successful the Beaufortain portion with epic views of Mont Blanc, Hauteluce has an “eco museum” displaying historical objects from mundane life. Nearby is the astute La Ferme du Chozal edifice (doubles from €175 a nighttime room-only, six-person apartments from €1,600 per week) with spa and restaurant.

Valloire, Savoie

Valloire. Photograph: Marek Slusarczyk/Alamy

The accepted Alpine municipality of Valloire is celebrated arsenic a constituent connected the classical Tour de France way betwixt the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier – 1 of the highest passes successful the rhythm race. It’s little good known arsenic a skis resort, but the athletics has grown a batch present implicit the years and benefits from a nexus to the modern edifice of Valmeinier, unneurotic creating a varied skis country of 150km of pistes crossed the Maurienne valley. The Résidence Odalys le Hameau (from €405 per week sleeping four), conscionable 10 metres from the slopes, has elemental self-catering apartments and an indoor pool.

Saint-Véran, Hautes-Alpes

Saint-Véran. Photograph: Lamax/Alamy

Many smaller skis resorts prevarication astatine a little altitude than the large hitters, but not truthful Saint-Véran successful the unspoilt Queyras valley, which sits astatine 2,040 metres and stakes a assertion to beryllium the highest (and, they say, the astir beautiful) edifice colony successful France. Situated successful glorious Queyras determination earthy parkland and known chiefly arsenic a spot for enthusiastic skis tourers to get into the backcountry, it besides has a tiny web of lifts for downhill skiers. Try the Chalets du Villard, whose rooms and abstracted gîtes person entree to a sauna and edifice (studio rooms from €102 per nighttime sleeping 2 oregon €160 sleeping four, country only; gîtes from €465 per week sleeping four).

Barèges, French Pyrenées

Barèges. Photograph: Hemis/Alamy

Among 40 skis resorts crossed the French Pyrenées, the precocious upland municipality of Barèges is an fantabulous choice, noted for its thermal waters and proximity to the Grand Tourmalet ski area, the region’s largest, which besides incorporates La Mongie. Freeriding connected the 2,877-metre Pic du Midi, with 10km of descent, is simply a large draw, though it’s astir arsenic amusive to thrust the cablegram car up to the apical conscionable for a cappuccino connected the prima terrace. Balneotherapy centres supply relaxing immersion successful the celebrated waters, portion kids mightiness similar an igloo-building lesson. The precocious revamped 13-room Hotel le Central (doubles from €75 a night, country only) has a excavation and useful in-house skis prosecute and servicing.

Pays de Gex, Monts Jura

Pays de Gex.
Pays de Gex

A bully all-round edifice for a assortment of snow-bound activities, Pays de Gex connects 4 characterful skis areas successful the Monts Jura upland range, 30 minutes’ thrust from Geneva and covered nether 1 skis walk costing a bargainous £19 a day. There’s large diverseness among them: challenging Lélex-Crozet has a vertical driblet of 800 metres, Mijoux-La Faucille offers dreamy cruising, Menthières has household runs, portion 160km of cross-country tracks upwind done the Domaine de la Vattay. Be definite to effort bleu de Gex-Haut Jura, the section bluish cheese. And see Hôtel-Restaurant Bois Joly successful Crozet, with magnificent balcony views and serving accepted fare featuring morilles, marrons and escargots.
A seven-night enactment costs from £506 for 2 radical country only,

Aravis valley, Savoie/Haute-Savoie

La Clusaz.
La Clusaz

The Aravis vale resorts of La Clusaz, Manigod, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt and Le Grand-Bornand are a superior enactment for skiers of each levels, linked by skis bus, with 230km of varied runs betwixt them. La Clusaz is simply a bully all-rounder with immoderate gnarly off-piste connected the Massif de Balme. Manigod’s woodland learner slopes are beauteous for first-timers, portion Le Grand-Bornand suits intermediates, with immoderate achromatic runs. The country excels erstwhile it comes to antithetic extracurricular activities, too, specified arsenic a 7km night-time sledge run by torchlight oregon twilight fat-tyred e-bike descent in Le Grand-Bornand. All are casual to scope from Aravis Lodge (three nights’ half-board from £429pp,, a chalet-hotel with sauna which runs a escaped shuttle bus.

Montgenèvre, Hautes-Alpes

Montgenèvre France

This snow-sure edifice connected the French-Italian borderline lies astatine 1 extremity of the Milky Way skis area, wherever its ain 60km of slopes are extended to 400km nether the Grand Montgenèvre skis pass, which besides covers the Italian resorts of Pragelato, Sestriere, Cesana, Sansicario and Sauze d’Oulx; the 2 countries’ cultures premix here. Montgenèvre has 2 boardercross courses, and immoderate people marque time trips to the utmost off-piste edifice of La Grave an hr away. Try Le Napoleon’s modern postulation of self-catering apartments, with shared entree to an indoor pool, hammam and sauna.
A seven-night self-drive bundle costs from £420pp including Eurotunnel crossing with Ski Solutions

Sainte Foy, Savoie

A pistillate   successful  a blistery  tub astatine  Etoile des Cimes apartments successful  Sainte Foy.
Etoile des Cimes apartments successful Sainte Foy. Photograph: Manu Reyboz

Increasing numbers of skiing families are cottoning connected to Sainte Foy, northbound of the Tarentaise’s Vanoise nationalist park, arsenic a fantastic alternate to its lively neighbours of Vald’Isère and Tignes. Gorgeous cruisy runs funnel down into the valley, making it hard to get lost, portion experienced riders and skiers tin observe awesome off-piste lines successful the backcountry by hiring a usher erstwhile conditions are right.
Peak Retreats has seven-nights’ self-catering astatine the centrally located Etoile des Cimes Sainte Foy Ski Apartments (from £656pp per week including Eurotunnel crossing), which has an indoor excavation and spa

Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Savoie

Photograph: Only France/Alamy

One of the lesser-known resorts among 110 that are dispersed done the Savoie Mont Blanc region, Pralognan-la-Vanoise is lone 1 vale implicit from Courchevel but a satellite distant successful presumption of outgo and atmosphere. This underappreciated gem successful the Parc de la Vanoise combines decent downhill (10 reds, 4 blacks, 10 greens, 5 blues) with beauteous terrain for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. One of France’s fewer curling rinks is unfastened for visitors here, oregon effort cold Toumo yoga, which originated successful Tibet and is performed outdoors successful the snowfall and glacial rivers. Hotel Edelweiss, with spa, sauna and gym, became the resort’s archetypal four-star this play (from €980 per week B&B sleeping two, five people meal €35pp). Or self-cater successful an flat astatine Les Hauts de la Vanoise (from £500 per week sleeping four).

rardmer, Vosges

The Vosges Cabin successful  Gérardmer.
The Vosges Cabin successful Gérardmer. Photograph: Jonathan Mauloubier

For those whose thought of a wintertime interruption involves tons of cosy clip padding astir a timber compartment watching snowflakes, alternatively than hammering the benignant of pistes you spot connected Ski Sunday, this mightiness beryllium the one. A 10-minute thrust from Gérardmer, whose ski area has 21 runs, nighttime skiing and 30km of cross-country skis trails, is Vosges Cabin, a modern minimalist refuge successful a quality reserve successful the Vosges mountains. The proprietor describes the country arsenic much akin to Germany’s Black Forest than the Alps, and the compartment features immense container windows for gazing retired astatine woodland and sparkling Lac du Gérardmer, arsenic good arsenic a blistery tub and sauna.
Sleeps up to 16 successful 5 en suite bedrooms and a bunk room, from €200-€450 a nighttime depending connected numbers,